In the world of miles and points there are many types of currencies. Ultimate Rewards, FlexPerks, Merrill+, not to mention a multitude of mileage programs. How do you determine which one to use in each specific situation? I got an interesting question on Twitter the other day and wanted to highlight it in a separate post. Here we go:
Merrill+ vs. FlexPerks
For those who are not familiar, let me explain the difference in a nutshell. Merrill+ program is unique because it will allow you to redeem 25,000 points on a ticket valued at up to $500. If the flight costs more than that amount, you simply co-pay with cash. So under that scheme, $525 Jet Blue ticket will cost 25,000 points+$25.
FlexPerks program works differently. You can redeem 20,000 points for a ticket valued at up to $400, and 30,000 points for a ticket valued at up to $600 (and so on). That’s why this Jet Blue flight would run at 30,000 points. You can see my post where I’ve described redeeming both currencies simultaneously
But! Starting January, each FlexPerks point will be worth a flat 1.5 cents towards airfare. So, next month those 30,000 points will be good towards a $450 ticket. I’m sure this development is a big reason why the reader is debating on which points he should redeem. If he goes with FlexPerks program, he will get $525 in value compared to $450 he will get starting January 1st 2018. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Not so fast!
Things to consider
1) Do you plan to cancel FlexPerks credit card in a near future?
If so, using up your stash now would make sense. FlexPerks cards have an annual fee, while Merrill+ Visa does not. So, there isn’t any pressure to cancel the latter.
2) Do you plan on buying tickets that are mostly in $100-$400 range in 2018 and beyond?
If that’s the case, you won’t be able to optimize Merrill+ program in its current form. The sweet spot involves tickets that are close to $500 or a little more. Having FlexPerks on hand will let you utilize them for cheap airfare, providing more flexibility.
3) Do you feel confident that Merrill+ program won’t discontinue the special perk on airfare redemptions?
Merrill+ card is no longer available for new sign-ups. It doesn’t mean it will be converted to another product at some point, but it is a possibility. I think airfare perk I’ve described could very well be discontinued in a year or two, though obviously, I don’t have any inside knowledge.
I would not be surprised if points will be worth a flat 1 cent per point or perhaps 1.5 cents towards airfare. I don’t believe FlexPerks program will make any major changes in a near future since US Bank has just overhauled its airfare redemption benefit for 2018 and beyond.
Recap: I would use FlexPerks points if I was planning on canceling the credit card associated with the account. Otherwise, I would be inclined to burn Merrill+ points.
I always stress that everyone has unique circumstances when it comes to miles and points. Very often it’s quite difficult to give a blanket answer to a question without knowing the specifics. But that’s why I love this hobby and blogging about it. It helps in keeping my mind sharp. And with two little kids, believe me, I need it!
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.